In addition to your microphones, DAW/console, and room, an essential part of any home studio set-up is your signal processing gear. From the dynamics control of compressors and limiters to the effects processing of reverb and delay, these tools are necessary to create a professional-sounding final product. But for the new engineer, these effects can be fairly mysterious, and a tendency to overuse plug-ins and outboard gear is commonplace, especially for someone just learning the nuances of the art of recording.
How can you best use your typical signal processing plug-ins to enhance and optimize your recording? Understanding how the dynamic control processors like compressors, limiters, EQs, and gates function, and knowing how to use multi-effects such as delays and reverbs to perfection will make you a better producer and engineer. It’s also important to remember that signal processing tools are just that – tools. There are no rules stating you can’t use them in different or novel ways to create new sounds. But before doing that, it makes sense to learn about the basic parameters of each and the functions they were invented to serve.